AM Mokhoma PHOTO-2020-10-16-11-54-52

She is the well-versed and critically acclaimed African writer, arguably the first Mosotho woman poetess in South African Sesotho literature. She was born on the 26th February 1929 at Matswaing – Sekonyela farm, which is located between Ficksburg and Fouriesburg in the Eastern Free State.

This matriarch of the South African Sesotho literature started writing at a tender age of 18 proof of which is a compendium of her childhood poems and personal stories. The following are her classical poems: Mophato o Phahameng oa Lesotho (Lesotho Secondary School), Moratuwa – Lerato La Me ( Sweatheart-my love),Bophelo ba ka Sekolong (My life at school). In these poems she talks about her childhood love live, what happened when she was in Basutoland High School.

Her poems had traditional heroic poetry (Dithoko) feel in them. She ventured into this mode of poetry writing which was highly exclusive for  use by the Basotho male praise-poets (Diroki).

In the late 1940s and the early 1950s there was an unprecedented epidemic of ritual killings known then as Diretlo. Mokhomo boldly wrote poems about these fearsome events irrespective of the fact that she was a woman.

She began her serious publishable literature writing at a young age when her formidable and classical book :Sebabatso (Praseworthy) was published in 1955. This assertion was confirmed in the publication of the late outstanding scholar, Dennis Ngcangca: Mabalankwe Ka Bangodi (Titbits about Sesotho authors).

In her legendary book, Sebabatso, she is aware of her solitude venture among male dominated poetry-writing by questioning her own writing. In the poem: Mopherathethana (the unpalatable dish) she uses satire to mock the guarded male poetic world that men will judge her work as being insufficient.

She worked and was trained as a Medical and Surgical nurse in 1955 and began her nursing training at Baragwanath Nursing College. From there she proceeded to the General Hospital in Tshwane. It is at these places that she wrote the poem, Bolibeng Ba Mahlomola (Upon the navel of sorrows) in which she captured how she underwent spiritual, physical and physiological torture. Mokhomo worked as a nurse at Germiston at Natalspruit Hospital between 1970 and 1974. On the 30th July 1969 she was awarded the Certificate in Ward Administration and Clinical Teaching by the South African Nursing.

She has been an articulate communicator and an inspiration to young women and men on the writing of poetry. A leader in society who spent most of her time caring for the ill and poor.

She submitted her final culture manuscript for publication by Mbali Press which traced the family to agree to the publication of the manuscript.

The legendary Sesotho poetess acclaimed in South Africa and abroad passed on, on the 11th March 2011.

Information sourced from: Pule Lechesa Unpublisged Sesotho Literature Encyclopaedia